The Bellator Middleweight title is on the line as Carvalho defends his crown against top contender Manhoef. Let’s analyze this matchup and cash a ticket in our MMA picks this Friday.
Melvin Manhoef (30-12, 28 KO’s, 0 Subs)
Melvin Manhoef has more tread on his tire than Goodyear with a debut combat performance that dates back to 1995. The 40-year-old Surinamese born fighter had frequented the junior circuits before getting the call to the Dream and Strikeforce organizations during his peak years.
He now plies his trade under the Bellator banner and the results have been mixed. Manhoef has compiled a record of 2-1 and one no contest since competing in Bellator with his most recent performance being a first-round knockout of Hisaki Kato. However, the devastating striker did not fare well in his previous two fights with a pair of second-round knockout losses to Joe Schilling and Alexander Schlemenko. The defeat to Schlemenko was eventually overturned and ruled a no contest after the Russian tested positive for anabolic steroids.
Rafael Carvalho (12-1, 10 KO’s, 0 Subs)
The reigning Bellator middleweight champion began his MMA career by getting choked out in the opening round to Julio Caesar Fernandes but it has been an upwards trajectory since then. Carvalho has done nothing but win with 10 of his 12 victories coming by way of knockout. Carvalho, like his opponent in this, his first title defense, is a prolific striker but more surgical in his approach.
Carvalho made his Bellator debut in September of 2014 against Brian Rogers and the MMA odds makers made him a +125 underdog. However, if you were prescient enough to include Carvalho in your MMA picks then you were rewarded as the 6’3” native of Rio de Janiero made short work of the Bellator veteran and earned a first-round TKO. Carvalho followed that up with a split decision victory over veteran kickboxer Joe Schilling in April of ’15 and then wielded a vicious body kick that felled Brandon Halsey to claim the vacant middleweight strap last October.
Make absolutely certain your glass is full and no trips are necessary once the bell rings in this fight because it could be lights out before the refrigerator door even closes. These two dangerous strikers have a combined 38 knockouts in their 42 victories. Despite Manhoef’s penchant for losing by submission he should have nothing to fear in that regard by the champion Carvalho. The reigning middleweight king is a standup striker and will welcome a brawl with the veteran of the cage wars. It takes two to tango and you can be sure they are both more than eager to dance.
The question we have before us is which fighter is more likely to be able to weather a storm and retaliate even bigger and better? While Manhoef has the chops to make short work of the champ I believe that Carvalho is the more accurate and disciplined of the two. Manhoef likes to lunge and tries to connect with a looping right hand while Carvalho looks for his openings and counterpunches better than his opponent. He also happens to be in the prime of his career at age 29 while the challenger is hoping for one more moment of greatness before he eventually is sent out to pasture. Well those green fields are calling because once he gets starched by Carvalho he may have his ticket punched out of Bellator after a less than scintillating tenure.
It appears the odds are not being dealt as of this writing on this championship showdown but when they are make sure you are on the right side and that would be with Rafael Carvalho.
MMA Pick: Rafael Carvalho
Best Line Offered: no line available